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Predicting Atlanta United’s starting XI at Chicago Fire FC

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Yeah, this won’t be easy.

Philadelphia Union v Atlanta United Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Atlanta United haven’t won an away match in league play yet this season. It’ll look to change that on Saturday in an Independence Day weekend contest at Soldier Field against a Chicago Fire FC club that nearly made the MLS Cup playoffs last season but have struggled mightly out of the gate, scoring just 7 goals through 10 matches en route to a 1-7-2 mark. It has Raphael Wicky on the hot seat as he’ll be forced to turn the fortunes of the last-place fire.

Atlanta, of course, have troubles of its own. We knew from the injury report that Emerson Hyndman, Franco Ibarra, Jürgen Damm and Mattheus Rossetto were out and that Josef Martinez was questionable following his return from international duty at Copa America. Then came word from Doug Roberson that Alan Franco and Santiago Sosa wouldn’t make the trip, and that Martinez was to stay behind in Atlanta as well with an eye toward another road match at Nashville SC on Thursday. And if you think Atlanta are thin now, wait until then, when as few as 5 and as many as 10 players could either be on international duty or injured.

Needless to say, things aren’t stacking up well for the Five Stripes. Here’s my crack at what Gabriel Heinze’s starting XI will look like against Chicago on Saturday:

GK—Brad Guzan (final game before international duty)

LWB—George Bello (final game before international duty)

CB—Miles Robinson (final game before international duty)

CB—Anton Walkes

RWB—Brooks Lennon

LM—Mo Adams

RM—Jake Mulraney

CM—Marcelino Moreno

LW—Erik López

RW—Ezequiel Barco (final game before international duty)

ST—Jackson Conway

It’s a blind stab more than anything due to the thin ranks making the trip. My thought is that formationally this could take more of a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 look with Barco and Moreno given the positional freedom to swap spots. Keep in mind that you have Lennon out of the RWB as well and his ability to get the ball into advanced positions. (And yes, I have Conway at striker.)

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.